Because I Didn’t Pray

Taylor Swift’s Midnights album dropped just two days after Emily died, which means I’ve spent a lot of time listening to it. The one song I keep coming back to is Bigger Than The Whole Sky. As soon as I played it for the first time, I wept because it so perfectly encapsulated everything I have felt in the face of this tragedy.

Emily was, and always will be, bigger than the whole sky to me — she was my entire world. From the beginning, our relationship felt like it was meant to be. After a month, it felt like we’d been together for much longer. It just seemed like we were literally made for each other. I can’t even explain it in words because I had never experienced that connection with anyone else.

Over the past week, I keep focusing on a line in the second verse: “Did some force take you because I didn’t pray?”

I keep replaying those final few hours in my head over and over again, especially that final bit of time where I sat alone in the ICU waiting area. I remember how I paced the room, my entire body filled with panic and fear. I needed to be doing something to save you, but I couldn’t. Your life was no longer in my hands, but rather an entire team of doctors and nurses. I couldn’t control anything but what I did with my time as I waited for someone to update me.

As the panic gave way to sadness, I decided to the only thing I could think of in that moment — I prayed. The same lines repeated from my lips as the tears streamed down my face:

“Please, please, please, God…
Don’t take her yet. Don’t take Emily…
Please save her. Please let her live.”

In the end, my prayers didn’t matter. You were gone.

My Complicated History With Prayer

Emily was one of the few people who knew the full extent of my “complicated” relationship with God and, even more so, my struggles with prayer. As I told her, I fully support prayer and wholeheartedly believe in the power of prayer just as much if not more as the power of positive thinking. I am willing to pray for other people, especially those I care about and love. Despite all of this, I went nearly two decades without saying a single prayer for myself.

I endured a lot through middle school (which could be its own entire story). By the time I reached high school, the toll of it all had completely destroyed my mental health. I just wanted the fear, the pain, and the shame I felt to disappear. So, I spent many nights crying myself to sleep, praying for my death.

Obviously, that prayer was never answered. I understand that It was a ridiculous thing to pray for, and I also understand that it went unanswered because there’s still more for me to do here on Earth. However, the shame and selfishness I feel for those absurd prayer requests, along with a general feeling of unworthiness of God’s love, pushed me to stop praying for myself for any reason… until that night.

Did My Prayers Take Her Away?

When I listened to Bigger Than The Whole Sky for the first time, I pulled up the lyrics so I could fully process the song. I noticed that line (“Did some force take you because I didn’t pray?”), but I didn’t give it too much thought. However, it keeps sticking out to me each time I listen to the song.

I realize that I did, in fact, pray that night. I chanted, I begged. I practically screamed it at one point. I probably even tried bargaining, I’m not sure. The point is, I prayed so hard for Emily to be saved. And yet, nothing.

I keep asking myself, “Was it a selfish prayer? Did you focus too much on yourself and not enough on Emily? Were you simply too late? Would the outcome be different if I had prayed more fervently before that final bit of time?”

The fact is, I don’t have the answers to any of those questions. Really, I don’t have answers to anything right now. Yet, I am completely convinced that my own wickedness, my flaws, and my inability to lead the life I should are to blame here. I failed everyone, especially Emily.

Just like in those days and months when my prayers for death went unanswered, I feel the urge to once again pull away. I feel unworthy, unclean, and unable of ever walk the right path. Instead of feeling the warmth of God’s love like sunshine on my skin, I fear I will spend the rest of my days in those shadows once again, feeling just like Hester Prynee, yet with countless scarlet letters instead of just one.

But, because of Emily, I need to handle this battle inside of myself differently than I would in the past. I need to figure this out, somehow. If nothing else, I need to do as much as I can with the rest of my time here if I’m even going to have a slim chance of seeing her again.


3 thoughts on “Because I Didn’t Pray

  1. Pingback: Because Her Faith Never Waivered | Because Of Emily

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